JERSEY CITY - Following a report over the weekend by the Jersey City Independent (JCI) that the local school board approved a 2 percent tax increase based on the inaccurate belief that such an increase was required to keep $100 million in state aid, several activists are calling on residents to vote down the 2012-2013 school budget.
Last month, the Jersey City school board approved a $661 million budget for the 2012-2013 academic year. This budget includes a $2 million tax increase.
As part of the Board of Education election, scheduled to take place on Tuesday April 17, voters will be asked to approve the portion of the
2012-2013 budget that is to be raised from local property taxes.
According to the JCI, Board of Education Administrator Melissa Simmons told school board trustees that if the district did not raise local taxes by 2 percent the state would "penalize" the district by "cutting our adjustment aid to an equivalent amount."
However, when the JCI contacted the New Jersey Department of Education, the news site was told this is not true. Indeed, this policy has not been in place for the last two years. A spokesperson for the DOE told the site there is no state policy requiring former Abbott districts like Jersey City to raise taxes to maintain their state aid.
Several city activists said Monday this report should be enough for voters to reject the school budget during the election.
In a release circulated Monday, local activist Riaz Wahid wrote, "A group of concerned citizens of Jersey City, [including] Sean Connelly, Facebook Parent Advocacy Group founder Ms. Akisia Grigsby, Rekha Nandhwani, Oscar Lakra and [I] are requesting that school board election voters vote 'no' to the budgetary question."
The activists, according to Wahid, believe that Simmons "gave the wrong advice to the school board."